Tragedy — remorseless and without appeal — has found us once again.
Over the weekend, a miscalculation on a mud-slick road on a backcountry jaunt turned adventure into despair and dismay.
Devin Frantzke, 14, and Jeff Johnston, 55, died when the Jeep in which they were riding slid off Cracker Jack Road and rolled down an embankment, ejecting all eight people in the vehicle.
Paramedics loaded two other critically injured people onto a medical helicopter for the headlong rush to a Valley emergency room, where they were apparently in critical condition.
The shock waves continue to spread through our tight-knit community.
We offer our heartbroken condolences to the families of those killed and injured, although words seem so pathetically inadequate in the face of such loss.
Not even the outpouring of love and support, shock and admiration can likely cushion the terrible blow, but we know that in this great-hearted community those who know these grief-stricken families will reach out in any way they can.
The driver of the vehicle will now likely face charges, although his own son was in the vehicle and he made brave efforts to get help for those injured. We do not know the full details of the accident yet, but surely the charges will only add to the terrible grief he already feels.
We hope that the friends and neighbors of everyone involved in the accident will do what they can to ease this burden of grief and fear and guilt.
And we will take from it the one sure lesson: Life remains unbearably frail, a gasp in the night, the flutter of a pulse.
So we must treasure it — and those we love — with every breath and every heartbeat.
Don’t make us land of quacks
Now, we don’t endorse candidates: We figure you can make up your own minds when it comes to the responsibilities of citizenship.
Still, we found unsettling the effort of the three Republican candidates for the state House and Senate seats representing Rim Country to start a little range war with the Federal government.
Chester Crandell, Bob Thorpe and Brenda Barton spent most of their time at an appearance before the Payson Tea Party suggesting that the states should stage a new rebellion against the tyranny of the federal government.
They barely touched on other issues — like the legislature’s deep cuts in education, realistic proposals to balance the state budget, ideas to cope with the spiraling rise in the prison population, concrete proposals to restart the state economy, suggestions for overhauling the state’s lopsided tax code, finding ways to reverse the runaway rise in tuition at Arizona’s public universities or a host of other urgent issues that will confront the next legislature.
Instead, they pushed for a constitutional amendment that they say would enable the state legislature to take back the federal lands Arizona ceded a century ago as a condition of its entering the union.
Granted, the federal government often mismanages the land it owns. One need look no further than a forest so overgrown forest that it threatens the survival of every community in Rim Country. Further, the state must work hard to ensure the federal government addresses vital issues — whether it’s reducing fire dangers or protecting the economies of rural communities marooned in a sea of federal land.
We have repeatedly hammered away at federal inertia and irrationality when it comes to things like selling the land Payson needs to build a university, approving the vital Blue Ridge Pipeline route or protecting Fossil Creek without smothering the local economy.
Still, this strange and futile Don Quixote quest promises to squander an election campaign that ought to focus on real-world solutions for our most pressing problems. Legal experts give this latest attempt at “nullification” by the states little chance of success. The last time a batch of states took the notion seriously, it led to the Civil War. This time, it seems merely bizarre.
We’ve already wasted too much time on ideological witch hunts and paranoia. Consider the decades of deadlock that occurred when loggers trying to ‘get out the cut’ waged their legal death struggle with conservationists trying to protect the last old-growth timber. They battled to a standstill and the forest suffered. Compare that to the progress made with the 4-Forest Restoration Initiative, when the stakeholders sought common ground.
So now instead of working realistically and persistently to hold the federal government accountable for its blunders and to forge a working relationship, these latest critics seize upon the language of revolution that makes Arizona sound like the land of quacks and kooks.
So we hope all of the candidates vying for House and Senate seats in the reconfigured State Legislative District 6 will focus on the real problems we face — education, jobs and health care — instead of slapping sauce pans on their heads and riding off to tilt windmills.